By Richard Higginbottom
A Tube strike caused us to arrive in dribs and drabs at Parliament Hill for this midweek match. Eventually enough players had gathered by 6.30 to enable us to get underway as the Blokes chose willow having won the toss. Excellent opening spells by Stuart Bruce and Gopala Krishna slowed down proceedings as the Blokes headed for helmets as the pace was cranked up – some flying edges augmenting a number of good quality shots to get them off to a good start until debutant Matt Lloyd at a wide slip position took a good catch off Gopala to remove Johnson for 8. Manu joined Dollard in a stand of 35 as Sachith Dassanayake and Josh Grimes took up the attack for the Gardeners, ended when Stuart caught Manu off a lofted drive induced by Sachith. Hanscombe supported Dollard – now playing some elegant strokes, particularly strong square on the off – until a Sachith scorcher located his stumps. Walker played a similar role until Toby Gallington – bowling the final four overs from the Athletics Track end – located a faint edge that the batsman didn’t register – removed him, skipper Higginbottom (keeping) taking the catch. Gospel Blokes captain Jones kept up the intensity with some fierce running until Paul Brasted exacted revenge for them daring to take on a risky second run, Gopala completing the run-out. Toby then bowled Woods for the first duck of the match and Mabe played some good shots as Dollard retired for a well-compiled half century. 140 looks about par on this pitch though Stuart’s second spell is worthy of note, only going for 11 runs in his 4 overs.
Excellent start by The Gardeners in reply as Toby and Josh traded blows against some good Gospel Blokes bowling until Josh was stumped off Jones for 19. The captain was in the mood and the scoring rate stayed somewhere near the required figure until a shooter (well, two of the Blokes suffered from a similar fate) accounted for him, Johnson the beneficiary. Matt tried to up the tempo a bit more but ‘keeper Manu had now shod his gloves and was bowling a testing spell and took a neat return catch. Toby followed shortly after, bowled by Manu for 27 and it’s looking a bit uphill now as the Blokes bowling and fielding tightened considerably. Paul (4) and Raj (0) also succumbed to Manu then Conor found it difficult to locate the ball in the gathering gloom though Sachith swung in hope and on three occasions located the boundary though the runs per over were now becoming extremely improbable. Sachith skied one and departed allowing Gopala to wonder where the ball was in the dark – helped when the sound of rattling timbers indicated the end of Conor’s innings. It’s deep into the last over so Stuart didn’t bother with pads and hit 3 runs off 2 balls to make the score a little more respectable but sadly not enough.